Vincenzo Nibali attempted to break Sky’s stronghold and blow the Tour de France apart today on stage 11. He failed in cracking Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, but saw Cadel Evans crack and the Italian moved up to third overall.
“I was going well, so I waited until the last climb to try to attack,” Nibali said after the finish. “There were many team-mates with Wiggins, so I tried to wear them down right away.”
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
Evans, the defending champion and BMC Racing’s leader, attempted a long move on the Col de la Croix de Fer. He failed and paid for it when team Liquigas-Cannondale’s Nibali began his attacks on the La Toussuire climb to the finish line.
Nibali attacked twice in the 18km Alpine climb, first with 10.7km remaining and again with 9.2km remaining. Sky pulled him back, but had to rely on Chris Froome as Richie Porte faded. Nibali went again. This time, Evans suffered under the effort of Sky’s chase and lost ground.
“Vincenzo showed he’s getting stronger with the race,” Wiggins said in the leader’s press conference. “His attacks at the end were pretty severe.”
“Two times, one when I saw them returning. I wanted to prevent it and just try to just take advantage of the work, but it was very difficult,” Nibali explained. “Chris Froome, like always, showed to be a great domestique. He did most of the work”
He joined with earlier attackers, Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol), Janez Brajkovic (Astana) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat). It forced Wiggins and Froome to lift the pace further. They caught the Italian from Sicily with just less than four kilometres remaining, when the climb eased.
Evans trailed in at around 1 minute, 30 seconds. Nibali failed to crack Sky, but pushed himself into third overall. He trails Froome by only 18 seconds and leads Evans by 56 seconds.
“There were a lot of hard blows today. We were all tired, it was normal,” Nibali continued. He was pleased with his time, but not so much. “Yeah, it’s important, but Sky’s still there and keeps showing to be a great team.”
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2012: Related links